Man from North Adams, Massachusetts

What it is:

Cabinet card measuring approx. 4.25 x 6.5 inches.

What I know about it:

Photographer is Hurd & Bordeleau of North Adams, Massachusetts.  Otherwise undated and unidentified.


When I buy multiple photos at the same time from the same source, it’s not surprising when they have the same city of origin, or even the same photographer.  But when I find the same small town represented in more than one place in my collection, that strikes me as remarkable.  A city like New York or Chicago, sure, but North Adams, Massachusetts?  My collection isn’t so extensive that I expect to see that kind of duplication.  And yet photos from North Adams have turned up in at least a couple of my acquisitions.  Is this by chance?  Or was North Adams some sort of hotbed of photographic industry back in the day, churning out such a disproportionate number of photos to its portrait-mad citizenry that you almost have to work to avoid them these days?  I did a little looking into North Adams to see if I could find a clue.  It’s a small town at the foot of the Berkshires, away from Boston, incorporated as a separate city from Adams in 1878, and named after the same Samuel Adams as the beer.  Today it is something of a cultural center as home to what claims to be the largest (by physical size) center for contemporary arts in the United States, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.  But, of course, that institution didn’t exist when these photos were taken.  (Readers who are vintage costume enthusiasts may be mildly interested to know that the business in that building at the time would have been Arnold Print Works, one of the world’s leading producers of printed textiles.  Major contracts included the fabric for the Union soldiers’ uniforms in the Civil War.)  It seems that the town was just an ordinary, if thriving, mill town.  It had a number of photographers who seem to have operated alone and in various partnerships.  There seem to have been at least three Hurds, all relatives, and I’m not sure which one this would be.  Anyway, I guess the fine folks of North Adams liked to get their pictures taken as much as anyone, and here is an example.

2 comments on “Man from North Adams, Massachusetts”

  1. Enjoyed learning about North Adams . It is interesting to speculate why you have so many photographs from there.

    • Thanks, glad you enjoy it. I assume it’s just a coincidence. But I still had to wonder. Even some of the ones you gave me for my birthday are from there!

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